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Athletes Continue To Suffer From Personal Training Poseurs

About 20 years ago the term “personal trainer” became part of our society’s vernacular and the title meant something positive. However, the latest steroid scandal, with an unqualified and uncertified personal trainer who is a half-assed “bodybuilder/fitness model,” sullies the reputations of all of the legit fitness professionals out there.

As the fitness industry has grown over the past two decades, the term personal trainer has lost much of its luster, as anyone who has ever worked out regularly thinks that they are qualified to tell other people how to train. For some reason there is this perception that because a person spends time in a gym, looks good and/or is “big,” they are A) qualified to be a fitness expert, or B) considered to be a fitness expert. Over the past 20 years I have seen way too many unqualified “trainers” take this path.

Unfortunately, there are too many gyms that are willing to employ these types as personal trainers after having them undergo a substandard, two-day training seminar. After all, fitness is big business and real qualified trainers are hard to find and expensive. The vast majority of gyms can’t afford to pay the going rate for qualified trainers, so they offer cut-rate prices for a cut-rate service.

The high school steroid scandal in Hanover Park, New Jersey serves as the perfect illustration of the misconception that exists regarding what passes for a fitness professional these days.

At the center of this scandal is a bodybuilder who possesses no valid qualifications or certifications to work as a personal trainer, yet works at a gym as a trainer and was able to get a volunteer position in a high school football program in large part because he weighs 245 pounds. Here we have yet another “personal trainer/fitness model” whose idea of fitness is based on the drug-addled abomination known as bodybuilding.

Which brings up another point that needs to be made clear; bodybuilders are not athletes, know nothing about athletics or athletes, and should be kept as far away as possible from legitimate athletes. Bodybuilding has nothing to do with health, fitness, performance or any other of the legitimate concerns of true sport and competition. Bodybuilding is an activity that is based on looking a certain way and has nothing to do with performance in any meaningful athletic sense.

Bodybuilders are the cockroaches of the athletic world. Just like the Periplaneta Americana, bodybuilders operate under the cover of darkness and usually go scurrying when light is shined upon them. Where the American Cockroach gains entry by accessing cracks in a building’s foundation, the drug-using American Bodybuilder – Gymrattius Americana – insinuate themselves into the athletic world by preying on the ignorance and insecurities of the unsuspecting, or by exploiting those who will do anything to succeed.

Every major steroid/performance enhancing drug scandal involves bodybuilders.

There are a lot of legit personal trainers out there who know what they are doing; certified, qualified, experienced professionals who know that the key to health, fitness, better performance and all of that jazz doesn’t reside in a pill bottle or a vial and syringe. Personal trainers certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) are among the most qualified fitness professionals in the industry and receive the highest level of instruction and continuing education in order to become – and stay – certified.

People need to realize that the big guy or the hot girl at the local gym isn’t qualified in any way to be a personal trainer strictly by virtue of their appearance. The general public needs to be made aware that there are many great personal trainers – and other more qualified fitness professionals – out here that are waiting to help.

Hopefully, scandals like the one unfolding in New Jersey will encourage people to seek out qualified personal trainers and not just consider the real professionals in the same group as the poseurs, dilettantes and bodybuilders at the center of these scandals.

About Sal Marinello

  • Phil

    thanks for your interesting opinion.

    I don’t think it matters whether a personal trainer is or was a bodybuilder, sprinter, boxer or table tennis player. All that matters is whether the trainer has the right knowledge, education and experience.

    I’m a road cyclist (which is pretty much the opposite of a bodybuilder) but when I had to rebuild all the muscles in my leg from scratch after multiple surgeries I took up leg training with a former professional bodybuilder (who happens to have a medical background) and he helped me much more than the unexperienced “so called” personal trainers in the chain gyms who knew nothing about the mechanics of the leg or sports injuries.

    I made the experience that many people who call themselves personal trainers don’t know what they are doing, and it doesn’t matter whether they are bodybuilders or not.

  • sal m

    phil:
    you’re a fortunate guy to have come across a bodybuilder that knew what he was doing. but it was his medical background that was the key, and not his bodybuilding background…but that’s just my opinion.

    but i agree with your conclusion.

  • domineaux

    You said,”Bodybuilders are the cockroaches of the athletic world”.

    That’s one very lousy sentence, and you’re dead wrong.

    There are a lot of lousy PTs, but there are also lousy CPAs. Every profession has issues with so-called certified professionals.

    There are plenty of people that cannot physically train or do not have time to train like a superior athlete. Most of the people doing BB training spend 45 to 60 minutes in the Gym on training days. In fact, most are just trying to keep decent physique (personal appearance) and live a healthy lifesytle.

    Our country is in a state of crisis…obesity.

    There is a whole world of people needing physical training and they are not involved in serious athletic competition. A reasonably well trained BB PT can help people that are over/under weight if they just educate them to eat properly, workout sensibly and rest. They also encourage discipline and determination in individuals to help them achieve physical goals.

    Drug abuse is a problem in all competitive sports, and it’s not exclusive to bodybuilding.

    It would be better to blame Athletic drug abuse on the fans, and the competition rather than the trainers.

    There is no way a person needing to lose 100+ pounds needs to hire a super-certified trainer like yourself. Those persons need someone that will be patient with them, easy on their pocketbook, deal with their constant setbacks, keep encouraging them and eventually they just might get into decent physical shape.

    There is a place for different training methods, and personal trainers. The marketplace makes it abundantly clear.

  • sal m

    bodybuilders also know nothing about how the body works as they have broken down the compound movements of the body into meaningless, isolation movements. bodybuilders are all about appearance and have no understanding as to how to develop the components vital for well-being such as balance, stability, agility and movement.

    bodybuilders have fouled the world with the taint of steroids, as every “fitness” program is at root based on a program a drug user has followed and promoted.

    surely without bodybuilders some other dweller at the bottom of the fitness food chain would have taken up the mantle of steroid proponent, but the fact is for the past 40+ years steroids and bodybuilders are synonymous.

    and you have no idea what i or other certified, qualified professional trainers charge so to assert that a bodybuilder serves a purpose because in your view real trainers charge too much, is ridiculous.

  • domineaux

    You said:

    bodybuilders also know nothing about how the body works as they have broken down the compound movements of the body into meaningless, isolation movements. bodybuilders are all about appearance and have no understanding as to how to develop the components vital for well-being such as balance, stability, agility and movement.
    ———————–
    Now that’s pure bunk. There are plenty of BB that know a great deal more than “some elite PTs” think.
    ———————–

    You said:
    bodybuilders have fouled the world with the taint of steroids, as every “fitness” program is at root based on a program a drug user has followed and promoted.
    ———————————–
    Ever hear of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire?
    ———————————–

    You said:
    surely without bodybuilders some other dweller at the bottom of the fitness food chain would have taken up the mantle of steroid proponent, but the fact is for the past 40+ years steroids and bodybuilders are synonymous.
    ————————
    Me thinks you don’t know ZIP about BB and this is just a troll thread to aggravate people.
    ————————

    You said:
    and you have no idea what i or other certified, qualified professional trainers charge so to assert that a bodybuilder serves a purpose because in your view real trainers charge too much, is ridiculous.

    ————————
    I know several PTs and they charge around $65.00 per hour, and that’s not too much. Still, it is more than a lot of people can afford. So,if there is someone that is certified as a PT (Bodybuilder or not) and can help a person that needs the training and can’t afford the going rate…I think that’s a good thing.
    ————————

  • sal m

    keep posting, as with each post you reveal how little that you know about the subject.

    your assertion that plenty of bodybuuilders know more than elite PT’s think is meaningless and doesn’t address my point that the nature of bodybuilding is diametrically opposed to that of real sport and real athletes.

    and i HAVE heard of barry bonds and mark mcgwire. have you read anything about their scandals besides that their names were attached to them? barry bonds’ trainer and the stooge who linked balco to bonds is greg anderson, your typical half-assed bodybuilder. the workout that allegedly was responsible for barry bonds’ newfound size was laughable and straight from the bodybuilding 101 handbook…leg extensions, leg curls, 4 different biceps curls exercise. anderson supplied bonds with the “flax seed oil” and “ointment” that was really designer steroids.

    and mcgwire was trollng around local gyms near his home and had a relationship with more than one local bodybuilder with ties to the steroid trade…

    so thanks for reinforcing my point there, that bodybuilders have tainted everything with their relianace on drugs.

    there isn’t all that much to know about bodybuilding besides the fact that its existence is due to drugs. have you ever been to a natural bodybuilding contest, or seen pictures of “natural” bodybuilders? i’ve been around these guys for over 30 years and KNOW it’s a joke. and i didn’t intend to rile up bodybuilders, but apparently one has gotten riled up.

    and there are plenty of places people can go for the correct info with regard to training, and not have to pay a lot for it…so people should seek out these sources while avoiding bodybuilders…plain and simple.

  • A J

    The fact is there are many PTs that are not bodybuilders that are totally useless at what they are paid to do.Looks like you missed that ?
    Steroid use is not limited to bodybuilding and in the position you are in you should be well aware of that .Missed that too ?
    While on the topic of drug use possibly you did not want the wrath of the entire fitness/sports industy on you back and pointing your journalistic guns at them might have been more than you wanted to deal with . If you are not aware of where the problem lies while in the position you are in it might be a good time to remove your head from your posterior.
    Hopefully you are a good personal trainer and if you are I sincerly hope you make a good living from it and suggest you stick with what you know .

  • sal m

    there ARE some PTs that don’t know what they are doing, but you are guaranteed to get a substandard trainer if you deal with a bodybuilder. bodybuilders equate size with performance, which isn’t the goal of real sports.

    and work on your reading comprehension. i never said that steroid use was limited to bodybuilding, i said that bodybuilders and steroids go hand in hand, and that where there is a bodybuilder there are steroids. there’s a difference, try to understand that distinction.

    balco employed milos sarcev – a bodybuilder who almost dies because of his drug use – to develop training programs for world class track athletes. and then there’s gred anderson. and how about lee haney working with evander holyfield. and the bodybuilders who are involved in the NJ high school scandal.

    AND YOU WROTE:
    “While on the topic of drug use possibly you did not want the wrath of the entire fitness/sports industy on you back and pointing your journalistic guns at them might have been more than you wanted to deal with . If you are not aware of where the problem lies while in the position you are in it might be a good time to remove your head from your posterior.
    Hopefully you are a good personal trainer and if you are I sincerly hope you make a good living from it and suggest you stick with what you know.”

    please try to rephrase this, as it makes absolutely no sense.

    however, if you are saying that there are problems in other sports that i should be talking about, i suggest that you go back and look through the items that i have posted that rip the nfl, mlb, the olympics, the nhl, boxing and athletes themself before you make more off-base comments.

    it’s quite remarkable how people with no knowledge base can speak with such total conviction.

  • domineaux

    From: Domineaux
    To: Sal M

    If your original article made any sense to begin with it would have stood on it’s own merits.

  • sal m

    since the bodybuilders are the only ones taking this personally, i can see how the item is beyond your understanding of the subject. you take the side of bodybuilding but cannot offer up any items of substance to back up your position. in the world of anonymous internet posters, this is the norm.

    really now, where would bodybuilders and bodybuilding be without steroids, hgh and other peds? can you at least answer that question? or doesn’t this make any sense to you either?

    you are the one who doesn’t understand the issue. keep checking back though so you can learn more about the subject! and thanks for stopping in!

  • Remco

    The lifestyle of bodybuilding is healthy. Using hormones in every kind of sport is unhealthy. In the Olympic games every person who ended up in the top 3 have used drugs. It depends in what grade you look at the sport. It’s a fact: Humans in the Top Sport will live shorter.

    People uses drugs in the sports. The sports doesn’t make you using drugs.

    But yes, Bodybuilders score high in using anabolic steroids. Because you are able to see the abnormal grow of the muscle, people (common people know nothing about drugs, they think even the muscles are fake, yeh right!) will think bodybuilding is something devils.

    Never heard of the Athletics in the DDR, they were not bodybuilders. But they have the side effects of a person who use high doses of hormones.

    Everybody who thinks your able to end up in the top sport without drugs is a Fool.

    This is what I have to say.

  • http://ry RY

    I agree with the article. Bodybuilders are roaches. I was surprised u did not point out the cosmetic aspect of the sport. The use of SEO and implants is more to do with modern Bodybuilding then steroids. Truth is they have more incommon with Pamela Andersons tits then being real sports men.

  • sal m

    great points about the implants, RY…a lot of folks don’t realize that body builders rely on pec, calf, biceps and other implants…

    but really body building is all about health….

  • Phil

    It might be correct that the experience alone does not automatically turn ever bodybuilder into a personal trainer, the same way as professional skiiers or tennis players are not automatically good skiing or tennis instructors.

    But all else being equal (same education, same qualifications), the trainer with years of bodybuilding experience will probably be better than a personal trainer without.

  • phil

    sorry for the typo, I meant “every” not “ever”

  • Mikey P.

    Most articles, even philosophy are based one sided view of a topic.

    His narrow-minded view, and the points it raises are genuine complaints. And I fully agree he does nothing for the BBing, weightlifting, strongman, PLing sports nor general health club members in his rant. His article should have been a indictment on gyms and their PT hiring policy and the certification schemes that are in operation.

  • sal m

    i would disagree with phil’s conclusion, but that’s what makes things interesting.

    and mikey also makes good points…i think the poor hiring policies of gyms and the ideal that body building is a valid training philosophy to apply to the masses in the year 2007 are one in the same.

    in an extremely narrow sense, there’s nothing “wrong” with a person who wants to follow the body building philosophy. it’s a personal preference.

    however, the problem is that the premise that the modern presentation of body building is effective is based on the fact that the acceptance of body building as a valid way of training is based on drug use. plain and simple.

    when drugs were introduced to body building/strength competitors back in the 50s and 60s, this group split into two different groups and the paths that they have travelled ever since have gotten further and further apart.

    the sight of huge guys who under the cover of darkess were using drugs to get bigger turned people on to the sport. arnold’s ascent brought body building unpresedented legitimacy, but the public never knew that drugs were what made body builders what they were.

    today there are better ways to train than to body build. it is the least effective and efficient method of training, and except for those who really want to engage in it, there’s no reason for anyone else to follow its principles, especially the average person who is looking to get into shape.

  • Tammy

    Not ALL bodybuilders use drugs. Some of us compete without the use of drugs, put hard work and dedication into our SPORT and try to live a very healthy lifestyle.

    I am personally a natural bodybuilder and I can run circles around most people I know when it comes to endurance. I work very hard at my physique which I earned the honest way…by busting my ass.

    You should not include an entire group of people in such a bad description. Coach roach? Hardly. I use to weigh 240lbs and was VERY unhealthy. I have lost 100lbs and my health has improved by leaps and bounds. True bodybuilders do not lift for poundage, they lift to create a beautiful symmetrical balance within their bodies.

    Bodybuilders who use drugs are cheaters and I agree, not athletes. Do not stick us all in that catagory.